Our Traffic Problems Will Return To Normal — By Tommy Purser

Our City and County leadership, for decades, worked to try to come up with a solution to the problems that arose from time to time with the railroad that bisects our community. There have been times when the city is cut in half for long periods.

It was always our leadership’s fear that, one day, a delay caused by a long train cutting off access for emergency vehicles would cost lives. That’s why, decades ago, the City of Hazlehurst constructed a fire station on the north side of the tracks. Before then, if a fire broke out on the north side of town and a train had the city cut in half, there would be a possibly-life-threatening delay for firefighters to get from the fire station in south Hazlehurst to the fire.

But problems remained: the Emergency Medical Service is located on the south side, as are the sheriff’s and police departments and, perhaps most critical, the hospital emergency room is on the south side as well.

So, after years of discussions with Georgia Department of Transportation officials, GDOT finally approved an overpass for our city which is now under construction on the bypass. The work was projected to take more than a year to complete. City leaders in particular recognized that closing the bypass for a year was going to create horrible traffic problems. But that downside was necessary to accomplish a long-time necessity for our citizens.

Since the bypass has been closed, traffic on Jarman, Cromartie, Tallahassee and Jefferson streets in particular has been adversely affected, especially with the large number of tractor-trailer trucks forced onto our already crowded inner city streets. The situation is probably most apparent at the intersection of Jarman and Gill streets and that has led to a cascade of cries for a traffic light at that intersection.

I doubt GDOT will approve such a light for a simple reason: in a few months, the overpass will be completed and the current level of problems at the intersection will disappear. Traffic will return to normal once all that truck traffic is rerouted to the bypass.

In the meantime, there are different routes people can take — no matter where they are going to or coming from — to avoid that intersection and save our already financially strapped city from spending $150,000-$200,000 for a permanent “fix” to a temporary problem.

It would be a small inconvenience for only a few short months.

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